Tag Archives: Migraine headaches

Can you treat a migraine without pain medicine?

migraine, headache, medicine, painIf you have ever had a migraine headache, you know the pain is so intense that a trip to the hospital may be in store.  In this case, the ER staff may use an opioid  pain medicine as a first resort. However, a recent study has shown that this commonly used drug, also known for its addictive qualities, may not be the best choice for migraine relief.

What is a migraine?

A migraine headache involves a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, usually along with other symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light are some of the most common symptoms of such headaches. Pain can occur for hours, or even days, and warning symptoms such as  constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, increased thirst, or frequent yawning may precede a migraine.  In rare cases, right before a migraine you may get aura symptoms such as flashes of light or blind spots.  In the 24 hours after, you may have symptoms such as confusion, moodiness, dizziness, and weakness.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine may be used for treatment of most migraines. More severe cases may require medications such as Triptan or Ergot, which help constrict blood vessels and block pain pathways.  However, opioids are used if a person cannot tolerate such medicines.

Migraine Relief Research

A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at 127 patients who had at least trips to the New York emergency department for migraine headaches.  Half of the patients received the opioid hydromorphone and the other half received an IV of the dopamine-releasing drug prochlorperazine.

After 48 hours of treatment, sixty-percent of people from the prochlorperazine group versus thirty-percent of the hydromorphone group felt relief.  In addition, the prochlorperazine group was 30-percent less likely to ask for more pain medicine after treatment than the opioid group (6-percent versus 36-percent).  This study suggests that anti-dopaminergic drugs may provide more relief to migraine headache sufferers than opioids. However, you should be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment for you.

Natural Ways to Relieve Migraine Pain

  • Learn to cope (LTC) : This treatment gradually exposes patients to headache triggers to help them become desensitized to such triggers.
  • Practice consistent overall wellness: Be sure to get a good night’s sleep of at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night and eat healthy, balanced meals every day. Also, be sure to find healthy ways to manage stress such as doing yoga, engaging in relaxation breathing, or taking a walk daily.
  • Stay active: Regular exercise can help not only manage stress, but can also prevent migraines.  Exercise reduces such headaches by reducing tension in the body. Furthermore, staying active can help reduce body weight.  Since obesity is thought to be a risk factor for migraine headaches, weight loss could reduce such risk.
  • Other medicinal treatments: Cardiovascular or anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and Botox may be prescribed to help prevent migraine headaches. However, for the more natural route, reach for Migravent by Vita Sciences.  Migravent contains natural ingredients such as PA-free butterbur, CoQ10, magnesium,  and riboflavin. This formula has been found to help prevent migraines and support reduced frequency of such headaches and related symptoms.

Disclaimer: Please be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Mayo Clinic (April 26, 2017) “Migraine”

Medline Plus (October 18, 2017) “Skip Opioid Treatment for Migraine in the ER”

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With or Without Migraine Aura, It’s Still Migraine

Migraine aura: A question that many migraine patients have about chronic headaches is whether or not experiencing an aura (flashing lights) is important for diagnosing migraine disorder. There are many different types of migraines, and they can vary for each individual…and for each migraine headache episode.

With or Without Migraine Aura, It’s Still Migraine

Migraine types

According to the International Headache Society (HIS) Classification System, migraines are primary headaches. Other primary headaches include tension-type headaches and cluster headaches.

Classifications for migraine headaches include migraines with aura, migraines without aura, migraines without headaches, childhood migraines, and so forth.

To define which type of migraine you have, it’s important to take into account all the various symptoms you experience, such as nausea, headaches, neck soreness, eye sensitivity, stomachaches, vomiting, diarrhea, mood swings, visual disturbances, speech slurring, vertigo, and extreme crushing fatigue.

Anatomy of a migraine attack

There are four main phases that occur when you have a migraine attack. They include:

  • Prodrome- unusual cravings, loss of appetite, excitability, fatigue, thirst; these happen about one day earlier.
  • Aura- migraine aura phase (see below)
  • Migraine headache
  • Postdrome- migraine hangover, recuperation following migraine attack

Migraine aura

Approximately one-third of all migraine patients experience the aura phase of a migraine attack. This is a set of symptoms that develops gradually minutes before a migraine strikes and can last as long as one hour. Sometimes, migraine aura occurs without headache, and ends with a feeling of hangover.

To diagnose migraine with aura, you would have to have experienced at least one of the following symptoms minutes before a migraine attack, at least twice that you can remember. Symptoms are temporary, and cannot be attributed to any other underlying health problems.

Visual disturbances:

  • Flashing bright lights
  • Oscillating arc image
  • Zig-zagging line
  • Light specks that flicker
  • Temporary loss of peripheral vision
  • Dark void in vision
  • Double or blurred vision

Sensory disturbances:

  • Hallucinatory scents
  • Vertigo
  • Distorted spatial awareness
  • Faces appear grossly large or small
  • Loss of sense of time passing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numbness
  • Partial paralysis

Speech disturbances

  • Dysarthria speech distortion
  • Apraxia- paralyzed speech
  • Slurring
  • Numbness in tongue

Migraines with aura

Migraines without aura follow the prodrome phase, as opposed to an aura phase.  A migraine without aura can be just as debilitating as a migraine with aura, and can last for hours or days.

If you experience migraines without the aura, don’t hesitate to ask your physician to refer you to a migraine headache specialist.

Treatments

Migraine abortive medications, preventatives, and pain treatments are often prescribed, in addition to migraine trigger avoidance.

Some helpful natural supplements for migraines are butterbur, magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10.

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Just How Many Types of Migraine Are There?

Which types of migraine do you suffer? There are different types of migraine headaches, each requiring special treatment and migraine trigger avoidance strategies.

Just How Many Types of Migraine Are There?

Types of Migraine

Migraines are generally defined by the specific symptoms, plus the assumed migraine triggers or cause. Migraine attack symptoms vary for each individual, and can be inconsistent.

Migraines with Aura

Basically, migraines are divided into two groups: those that follow a “migraine aura” and those that don’t.

The migraine aura is a warning signal that happens mere seconds before a migraine strikes.  Symptoms can be frightening and debilitating: sudden vertigo, partial paralysis, distorted sense of spatial awareness, speech slurring, strange flashes of lights or colors, and sometimes brief loss of consciousness.

Sometimes a migraine aura gives you time to prepare and quickly take an abortive medication, but not always.

Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine refers to a migraine with aura, and defines the specific phenomenon that occurs during this migraine phase. Other names includeophthalmic migraine or retinal migraine.

There are different types of ocular migraine, depending on which type of visual distortion you experience before a migraine attack occurs.

Symptoms of ocular migraine include blurred vision, bright specks of light, zigzagging lines, oscillating arcs, temporary partial blindness in one eye, floating lines, and dark void that increases.

Acephalgic Migraine

Also called “silent migraines,” an acephalgic migraine includes all the symptoms of a migraine attack, minus the headache.  Somebody suffering from acephalgic migraines may experience frequent dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, visual distortions, vertigo, and extreme fatigue- all symptoms that occur often with migraines with aura.

Migraine Auras without Headache: Silent Migraines

Seasonal Migraines

Sometimes, your migraine headaches occur only with changes in climate. Migraines are characteristically hypersensitive to changes of any kind (e.g. hormones, blood sugar, and sleep schedules), so fluctuations in the weather that occur with the change of seasons can trigger strong headaches for many people who are predisposed to migraines.

Other reasons for season migraines can include allergens in the air, arid weather, or even seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that afflicts some people in the winter.

Cyclic Migraine Syndrome

Also called unspecified migraine, cyclic migraines don’t follow any pattern that can be traced easily. You may go through a phase of chronic migraine headaches- more than 15 per month- and then experience a weeks-long respite, only to have the vicious cycle repeat all over again.

Abdominal Migraine

Abdominal migraines are usually the earliest sign of pediatric migraine, as they’re mostly common in children who have inherited migraines from their family. Still, abdominal migraines can occur with adults.

Symptoms of abdominal migraine include intense stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Natural Options for Helping Migraines

Prescription migraine pills can help to reduce migraine attack frequency, but can also cause harmful side effects, such as memory loss, dizziness, change in appetite, and even headaches. Please ask your doctor about some natural ingredients that, when taken daily, can provide positive results without side effects, and can be taken safely with most migraine headache medications.

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What Works for Migraines? New Study

In a recent study, patients tell researchers what works for migraines, comparing prescription migraine drugs with natural, alternative vitamins and lifestyle changes. The results may surprise you.

What works for Migraines

Migraines are a neurological illness that inflicts sufferers with frequent crippling headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, vertigo, and all-over body pain. Doctors have been working on a “cure” for years, but it seems that some of the most effective treatments that help don’t require a prescription at all.

What works for migraines?

Disclaimer: Please don’t ever consider stopping your current migraine medication or starting a new one without your doctor’s consent. This does not constitute medical advice, but rather a general awareness of what researchers have discovered when interviewing patients of chronic migraine attacks.

Eighty percent choose natural therapy.

Results are based on a survey by Cure Together that is available online.

Of the top ten best-rated treatments for migraine headaches, only two are migraine prescription medications; that’s an 80% success rate for natural preventative medicine and migraine trigger avoidance.

Top 10 list

1. Sitting in a dark, quiet room.
2. Taking a nap.
3. Avoiding red wine.
4. Waiting it out.
5. Eliminating MSG.
6. Avoiding smoke or quitting smoking.
7. Wearing sunglasses, even indoors.
8. Intravenous dihydroergotamine Injection (DHE)
9. Imitrex (sumatriptan) injection
10. Pressing an ice pack or cool towel on head or neck.

Popularity vs. effectiveness

Interestingly enough, some of the most effective treatments for migraine headaches are also the least practiced. According to the infographic on Cure Together, the most oft-prescribed migraine drugs are rated by patients as the least helpful in relieving migraines. Conversely, natural migraine strategies that work, such as lifestyle changes and nutrients such as butterbur, riboflavin, CoQ10, and magnesium seem to be the least prescribed and the bottom of the go-to list for migraine prevention.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people continue to suffer from excruciating migraine attacks?

Natural vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients

Out of all the treatments rated in this survey, the one that got the best response- lying down in a quiet room- garnered 893 points. Using that number as a guideline, you can see that vitamin supplements for migraines get a huge thumbs-up for simple effectiveness without side effects.

  • Magnesium- 556
  • Vitamin B2- 380
  • Coenzyme Q10- 296
  • Vitamin B12- 247
  • Vitamin D3- 130
  • Butterbur-  115
  • Vitamin B6- 106

Hint: Migravent has all of the top-rated ingredients!

Migravent for Migraines

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What treatment do you believe works for migraines better than anything else?

Did you like this article? Please tweet, blog, or share this on Facebook with anybody who suffers from migraines or is otherwise involved with migraine awareness. Feel free to leave your comments below.

 Image by Stuart Miles

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Migraine Triggers in Food that will Surprise You

The single most important preventative treatment for migraine headaches is to simply avoid all migraine triggers that affect your nervous system. Easier said than done, you may say, as there are hundreds of things in food, weather, and daily life that increase your chances of having a migraine attack.

Migraine Triggers in Food that will Surprise You

Can you spot the migraine triggers here?

What’s in a migraine?

Migraines are a neurological disorder that is often inherited from your family. Most migraine sufferers are women, but not exclusively. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, excruciating pounding headaches, stomach pain, nausea, eye pain, vertigo, and overwhelming fatigue. Chronic headaches happen more than 15 times each month.

It’s worth noting that not all migraine attacks include headache. You may experience all the other symptoms of migraine, such as dizziness, stomach cramps, and extreme sensitivity to bright lights and strong scents without ever suffering from head pain. Even “silent migraines” can be very debilitating, especially as they are often connected with migraines with aura, a condition that scientists have linked with increased risk for stroke, heart disease, and epileptic seizures.

Migraine triggers

Migraine triggers don’t necessarily cause migraines, as much as they increase your likeliness of having one. Just as stress lowers your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections and bacteria, so do migraine triggers make it harder for your nervous system to control overstimulated, trigger-happy nerve cells of the brain.

Some of the most well-known migraine producers exist in food. Chocolate, coffee, hot dogs, aged cheeses, and MSG are all considered “red light” foods on a migraine diet. Still, every person is wired differently, so what triggers a five-alarm migraine attack in one person may actually provide significant relief to another. Caffeine, for example, is both a migraine trigger and a painkiller, depending on your migraine brain.

To find out exactly which foods are triggering your migraine headaches, it’s important to keep a migraine diary, and fill in all foods, feelings, medications, daily weather, sleep cycles, and other relevant facts.

How many of these unusual migraine triggers can you identify?

  • Leftover food from restaurants, likely to contain tyramine, a common migraine trigger.
  • Bananas- along with avocados, fruits that are eaten when very ripe also contain tyramine.
  • Citrus fruits, although healthy for preventing the common cold, are rich in citric acids that interfere with your pH blood level, and also contain histamine, a migraine trigger for some.
  • Artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives contain chemicals that increase your chances for frequent migraine headaches.
  • Packaged goods containing hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG) can include mixed nuts, soup mixes, sauces, and even mayonnaise. To avoid migraines, always read food labels, even on food products that you wouldn’t expect to find migraine-triggering MSG.

Scientists have compiled a list of hundreds of migraine triggers, not all of which are from food. In addition to the ones listed, can you list any other other headache triggers that you currently avoid?

Image by Ambro


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Understanding Migraine Disorder

It’s a myth that migraines are mainly really bad headaches; they’re so much more than that. Many migraineurs are surprised to learn that unusual symptoms like vision problems, vertigo, and olfactory hallucinations are linked to migraine disorder. By playing “connect-the-dots” you can come to a better understanding of how migraines work, and things you can do to prevent them.

Understanding Migraine Disorder

Migraine symptoms

Chronic migraines are attacks that occur more than 15 times per month. Symptoms can vary between patients, and may not always include headaches.

Signs of migraine attack can include the following:

  • Excruciating throbbing headache
  • Strong urge to vomit
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Visual disturbances (aura)
  • Partial numbness
  • Sensitivity to lights and noise
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Impaired spatial awareness

Migraines are neurological

Unless you’ve been to a neurologist or other migraine specialist, you may not have realized that your migraine attacks are caused by “overexcited” neurons in your nervous system.  Migraine disorder is classified as a neurological disorder that occurs when certain elements trigger migraine attacks in your brain.

A migraine trigger can be anything from a salami sandwich to a dry martini; from an intoxicating scent to a stressful day.

Although there is no universal cure for migraines, doctors are sometimes able to reduce your odds of experiencing an attack by preventing such triggers from invading your nervous system.

Trigger avoidance

When a doctor prescribes antiepileptic medicine or antidepressants for migraine headaches, it’s because he believes that the same mechanism that occurs with epilepsy or depression may be related to your migraine attacks.

Migraine trigger avoidance is an extended form of migraine prevention, as it focuses on elements in your daily life that make migraine headaches more likely to occur. There are hundreds of migraine triggers that affect migraine sufferers differently. By determining which ones are “red light” triggers, you can effectively reduce the number of migraine headaches you experience each month.

Examples of migraine triggers are foods, scents, lights, weather, hormonal changes, stress, eating habits, sleep schedules, and loud noises.

To identify your triggers, try using a migraine diary for at least a few months. Take note of things like food, mood, weather, medications, sleep, and anything else you think may be relevant.

Migraine prescriptions

Doctors recommend alleviating migraine headaches with over-the-counter medications before visiting a specialist. If NSAIDs fail to relieve migraines, then you may be able to get some help from a neurologist or headache clinic.

However, many prescription migraine drugs come at a high cost- side effects can include memory loss, addiction, dizziness, anxiety, and even…headaches.

Natural migraine supplements

Alternative, complementary nutrients are finding their way into conventional migraine practices. Doctors have seen where magnesium or vitamin B deficiency can worsen or trigger migraine frequency. Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs help to correct vitamin deficiency while also promoting healthy neurological functioning needed to sustain day-to-day living without migraines.

In various clinical trials, doctors have found the most benefit when migraine patients take a combination of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and PA-free butterbur root each day.

Summary

For migraines, the best approach is one that combines the best of conventional and natural applications.

  • Minimum painkillers, under doctor supervision
  • Preventive treatments, also under strict supervision
  • Simple lifestyle modifications
  • Relaxation and exercise
  • Supplementation of nutrients known to help migraines

Try this:

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